My Journey – Janelle Tavender


Janelle Tavender

Looking back over my life it is hard to comprehend that I have been a Christian for almost 30 years. As I look back over that time, I can see how God and His Word have guided me, even though during that period it has often been hard to distinguish God’s leading. My journey to Christ really began when I was 15. Having come from an unchurched family, I had no concept of who God was. Names like the Lord Jesus Christ, Abraham, Moses, Noah, the Apostles and Paul were just not in my mind or vocabulary. I was taught to believe the “rational” scientific process of the Big Bang Theory and Evolution by my father. I had no idea about Christianity or the security that comes from God. I had come from an unsafe family environment and had no hope of a better life. My life was devastated when my father, after suffering from mental illness, committed suicide when I was 13. At this time, without a concept or foundation of God or the saving grace of Christ, I was lost and struggling to make sense of the world.

Then, at 15, I was asked to come to church and join a youth group by my sister’s boyfriend. Off I went after much encouragement, determined not to get involved. Yet during the course of that year, I changed my tune. At 15, I committed my life to the Lord and really had to learn from scratch all the Bible facts that others took for granted. This was a long process and, often, I found the Bible confusing. So I did what a lot of Christians do, and just accepted everything that anyone leading the meeting told me. I travelled along in this way for several years, doing the “good Christian” tasks in the life of the Church. My church at that time was very supportive and I thought that was how this whole scheme worked. You did all the good things people told you to do and you would be right with God.

When I was 21, having become a co-leader of the youth group, I started to go to a Bible study sponsored by the church, with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband). The person running the study, had come in contact with the Berean Bible Fellowship of Australia through a business contact and friend, and he was excited to pass on the knowledge he was learning to those in the Bible study group. So, while the church sponsored the study, we were learning some different concepts than the Elders imagined. As we continued with this eye- opening study, David and I started to attend the BBFA studies being held in Newcastle. This changed my life and my thinking about God in every way. Learning to place God’s plan in a logical sequence, and understanding the concept that God works with different people in different ways, really opened a whole new world for me.

This period of transition was a difficult one for me, as my only spiritual experiences were with the church I had been attending since I was 15. I had not explored other denominations because I felt at home in the church. Having not much support at home, my spiritual parents were there also; however I began to change my views and “unlearn” some of the church traditions that I thought were in the Bible. My dear friends and mentors in the church were resistant to my change of views and heart. So I found myself in a very deep hole, wondering if I could really work through this period of uncertainty. Having the support of my husband, David, and mentors such as Bob Davidson, really assisted me to come to a greater understanding of the Bible than I thought possible.

As my spiritual journey has developed over the years, I have come to understand and appreciate how perfect God’s plan is. Not a man-made plan full of flaws and imperfections, but a master plan that deals with sin and death in a righteous and just manner. From Adam to the Lord’s First advent, to His Second advent and beyond the thousand years reign of Christ, God has a plan to completely reconcile His people to Himself, and allows others to be blessed in a special way. For me, this means that I can trust in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and walk in a worthy manner, if I search and understand His Word and understand where we, as people, fit in the plan.

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, while our salvation is assured, there is another life journey that we must continue to walk in. Paul prays “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17,18) This is an immense undertaking and one that I struggle with everyday. How do I accept this precious gift and make myself worthy to receive it. How do I make myself acceptable to God, understanding Him and the plan he has set before us? How do I live in a world that has lost its understanding of God? How do I keep walking the journey that the Bible instructs me to? Yet I know that each day, by striving to do what I know to be right, I can mature in my faith and understand God more. I can ponder the things of God as I walk though life, my work and commitments. This is a great comfort to me.

I thank God continually that He gave me life, when previously all I had was existence, a dark lonely existence. Yet now by faith in Him, I have all “spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3). What a wonderful and inspiring concept. I am not sure I understand the magnitude of that position. Yet, I want to be able, as Paul says to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”(2 Timothy 2:15).

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